RED-TAILED TROPICBIRD


Phaethon rubricauda


Description:

Red-tailed Tropicbirds are solitary feeders and rarely fish within sight of land. To catch its prey, the bird dives, with wings half-folded, into the water. Red-tails consume mostly fish (flying fish, mackerel, dolphinfish, balloonfish) and squid.


Appearance:

General: Sexes similar. 30 to 37 inches in length, including streamers.

Adult: Almost entirely white plumage. Bright reddish-orange decurved bill. Black eye stripe that curves toward and extends to the gape. Long, thin, red tail streamers, which are often difficult to see in flight. Blue-gray legs and feet.

Immature: Similar to adult, but lacks tail streamers and has a black bill and barred underparts. Bill changes from black to yellow to reddish-orange; may be confused with White-tailed Tropicbird during this time.


Habitat:

Pelagic, only comes ashore to breed.


Nesting:

1 brown to purplish-black egg. The eggs have a 39-51 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 77-123 days. The egg is incubated by both parents in shifts of 8-9 days. The nest is a shaded hard rock or crevice. Nests in the Hawaiian Islands and disperses widely in tropical and subtropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.


Observed Locations:

  • Kilauea Point Lighthouse, Kauaui, Hawaii





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Kilauea NWR

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Kilauea NWR

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Kilauea NWR

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Kilauea NWR

 

 


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